As Piatt County's spelling bee champ, Leo Kinsella was asked when he'd be available to copy edit at The News-Gazette.
"What does it pay?" was Leo's clever response. He's in seventh grade.
Spelling bee season is underway, kids like Leo hoping to wind up at the national finals near the nation's capital in May. His next stop is a regional competition in March in Decatur. Is Washington D.C., a possibility?
"Not unless I choose to spend a lot more time studying," he said. "But I have one more year of eligibility, so I won't say it could never happen."
Leo clinched this week's county contest at Monticello Middle School by correctly spelling "fletcherism" and "plateau." A year ago, he finished second to older brother Paolo.
"We're all good spellers; it runs in the family," Leo said. "But I'm a better speller than my brother!"
He roots for the Bears, Blackhawks and Patriots, plays baseball and basketball and enjoys video games.
"I also love to practice dialects and do impressions," he said. "My mom and I often talk to each other in British accents. It drives my dad and brother crazy."
Practice can be a pain.
"It feels like a chore sometimes, like doing any other homework. I don't ever study alone or write the words. Mom and Dad just ask me words and I spell them, and if I get it wrong, they give me a trick to remember it next time. Like, to remember the word persistent ends with 'ent' not 'ant,' my mom taught me that 'you must be persistent when setting up a tent.' "
"Fletcherism" didn't make him flinch.
"No, that's a word I had studied before, and it's a pretty easy word. Just spell like it sounds; no tricks for that one. I can't tell you what it means, though."
Words in history